How to apply for asylum in New Zealand?

The New Zealand government is increasingly supportive of freedom of expression, creed and political thought, and is therefore constantly evaluating how to help foreigners fleeing their countries because of discrimination. That is why more than 1 million foreigners live in New Zealand territory, the highest percentage being individuals in refugee status.

Currently, it receives around 400 requests for international protection per year, with an approximate 30% acceptance rate. In fact, by 2021, 297 cases were approved, benefiting mainly citizens of India, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey.

It should be noted that the efficiency of the New Zealand protection system increased surprisingly, after the creation of the Immigration Status Determinations and Refugee Protection Act, in 2009. It is based on the Convention on the Status of Refugees. Refugees of 1951 and 1967, to provide help to those who are actually victims of abuse, discrimination and/or persecution.

First considerations for applying for asylum in New Zealand

In the first instance, keep in mind that the system grants asylum only to those who meet the refugee concept, which indicates that it is a person who, for duly founded reasons, fears returning to their country of origin. Which corresponds to acts of persecution, discrimination, violence, torture, inhuman treatment, among others.

The foregoing corresponds to what is established in the Convention against Torture of 1984 and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966. It is an extension of the reasons why individuals can flee their country, since the objective of New Zealand is to contribute to world peace.

Secondly, it is important to know that to start an asylum process in New Zealand territory it is necessary to be in the country or one of its entry points, such as an airport or seaport. And the procedures will be managed by officials from the Refugee Protection Unit, which works jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Asylum application in New Zealand

Procedure for applying for asylum

Once you are inside New Zealand or one of its authorized border points, then you can start the petition procedure. The steps are:

Step 1. Announce the request

The first step is to go to the authorized police or immigration offices to express the desire to request international protection from the New Zealand government. At that moment, an official will give you an official asylum application form, which you must fill out with your data. Likewise, a member of Protection and Refuge will ask you about the reasons for leaving the country of origin and will request identity documents and evidence of the case.

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Now, if for some reason you do not have identification documents, the officers have the duty to call the police and detain you until they validate who you are. To do this, they will send your fingerprints to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If you are located within the territory, the address of the Immigration Office (INZ) to which you must go is: Level 12, 280 Queen Street, Auckland CBD. Office hours are from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm; And you don’t have to make an appointment. For more information you can also make a phone call to 09 928 2236.

Step 2. Initial analysis of the request

After submitting the form and the aforementioned documents, the Protection and Shelter officers will quickly assess whether the application should be considered or not. If not, they will tell you to leave the country.

For its part, if the analysis is positive in this instance, then the criminal record of the individual and the connection with people within the country, if any, will be studied. The crimes to be investigated are those related to wars, inhuman crimes and any act that violates the principles of the United Nations.

Step 3. written statement

Therefore, the officer will ask for a written statement of facts to complete the asylum application. It details the facts, the people with whom he will live during the process and their contact information. The latter must be updated when there is a change, since the following notifications will be sent to the address, such as the date of the interview.

Initial analysis of the New Zealand application

Step 4. Interview

Here again you will meet with a Protection and Refuge officer to explain the facts that led you to leave the country of origin or habitual residence. It is also the time to deliver evidence that for external reasons you could not provide on the day of the announcement of the application.

Recounting the facts chronologically is the most advisable in the interview. This is how you avoid making mistakes and help the officer understand the basics of the case more easily. After that, you will receive a report that summarizes what was narrated in that meeting.

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It should be noted that on this day you can present yourself with a practicing lawyer, that is, with a valid license under the laws of New Zealand. This service, most of the time, is paid by the applicants; however, the Ministry of Justice promotes free help, for more information consult here.

Step #5. Final presentations and verdict

On some occasions, after the interview, the officers may request other presentations to validate aspects of the report or evidence provided. If so, still try to be as specific as possible.

After that, within a maximum period of 140 days from the start of the application, you will receive the final verdict, which can be positive or negative. The first indicates that you have been accepted as a refugee and, therefore, you can stay in the country. The second, that you did not comply with the provisions of the Refugee Protection and Status Determinations Immigration Act and you must leave New Zealand.

Despite obtaining a negative response, you can resort to the appeal process before the courts, and if the verdict does not change, you can start a new process. However, in this case the reasons must be presented differently to avoid it being considered “clearly abused”.

After the positive verdict

While achieving a positive verdict is the wish of all asylum seekers, it is essential to keep in mind that the analysis continues after that. The reason is to evaluate if the conditions of the refugees have changed and they can be returned to their country or if the system was violated with some fraud.

In other words, if the reasons you fled your country no longer exist then the New Zealand government has the right to revoke refugee status. This is how the system works more efficiently, since it guarantees that humanitarian aid is granted to those who need it.

Regarding the detection of fraud, an automatic annulment of refugee status occurs. While it is a crime to falsify or conceal evidence, New Zealand’s policies only remove a person to the country of origin, without criminal charges.

It is advisable to seek asylum in New Zealand

Is it advisable to apply for asylum in New Zealand?

New Zealand is an amazing country, with natural beauty and many opportunities for employment and education. Without a doubt, it is an excellent option to request political asylum by those who are victims of violence, persecution and discrimination in their country of origin.

In addition, as if that were not enough, New Zealand attends to emergency cases, such as those of citizens who come from wars and has a unique refugee settlement strategy in the world. In this sense, it does not expel people while the verdict is defined and promotes social inclusion, employment, health and housing at all times.

Maya Martinez

Legal advisor for immigration processes. In addition to providing support in the legal procedures, I offer integral and informative support in relation to the obligations that are acquired when arriving to a new country.

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